Sometimes when we think of tough practices we think of class levels, challenging poses, and Power Flow. Sometimes, however, the toughest practices are not so easy to foresee.
You step onto your mat so unsuspecting. You cant quite seem to get 'here', 'now'. You think, "It's ok, you'll get there". But you don't.
"Why isn't my practice like yesterday's?"
"Why can't I breath?"
"How long have I been talking to myself for?"
"Where am I?"
These are tough practices. They are the ones that make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. You feel like you are dragging ass. Every single alignment cue that is given feels treacherous and you can't even bare to think about how many poses you have left to do or it might result in a quick exit. Your mental chatter is so obnoxiously loud that your ear drums hurt and you forget to breath. You are disconnected from yourself and it's exhausting. A tug of war starts between body and mind. You think to push yourself or give up and neither feel right. As the practice goes on, you start to hear yourself. I mean, really hear yourself. Your body says, "I'm tired today", and you realize that your mind has been like this all day and only now are you stopping to listen and check in. What is relevant? What isn't? What is prevalent and is there a pattern? Can you find space for quiet? You're in deep but you are here on your mat and going to work through it no matter how unpleasant it is.
These practices are humbling. They are milestones. Sometimes we confuse these practices for plateaus when they are deeply therapeutic and psychological. They cannot be quantified and evaluated in physical poses and visible shapes, nor should they be, so we become lost and the practice undervalued. It's like our Ego just went to the Mandarin, it's disgustingly full of all the wrong things and hates itself for it.
I wanted to share this because I think we can feel very alone in these practices, thinking everyone around us is having the best practice of their eff'in life. In this place we may be vulnerable but we are not alone and we are exactly where we need to be. This is WHY we practice, this is how we find Self, how we grow and become strong. This practices causes us reconsider our entire practice, to acknowledge how it serves us and manifests within us both on and off the mat.
Have you ever considered keeping a practice journal? Somewhere to write, record or possibly even share your reflections after your practice? It is a great tool for deepening your practice, for taking it off of your mat and into your own hands.
For those interested, I would love to receive any writings that you would like to share. I can keep them between us as a confidential dialogue alternatively they can be shared publicly or anonymously. I would really love to open up the table for some connecting outside of the classroom.
I would love to hear your story. I want to learn from you all and only by request would it be shared publicly. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.